Central Texas churches stand as an incredible testimony of the faith and endurance of immigrant faith communities, having survived through Civil War, slavery abolition, and segregation. Several old churches in Texas are nowadays touristic landmarks.
1. Saints Cyril and Methodius
The Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius is an extraordinary Romanesque Revival structure that towers over Shiner. This style is distinguished by a profusion of forms, colors, materials, and styles; here this style can be seen through rectangular dimensions featuring a square tower with an octagonal spire; its facade features pinnacles and buttresses while its semicircular apse boasts pinnacles; while inside this church are splendid painted designs on walls and ceiling.
In 1917, a group of dedicated Catholics came together and started building their church. Comprised mostly of Slavs, Croats, Bohemians, and Irish women; one donated most money – they began by building a small chapel which eventually expanded into their cathedral on July 7th of 1917 – dedicating it to Saints Cyril and Methodius.
Saints Cyril and Methodius were Christian missionaries who successfully integrated Slavic countries into Christianity. Evangelizing using native tongues, they introduced alphabets for easier preaching. Canonized as saints by both Orthodox Church in 1880 and Roman Catholic Church in 1884, they are considered patron saints by archdioceses in Ljubljana, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Slovakia as well as Europe in general and Slavic nations such as Serbia Montenegro Russia respectively.
Saints Cyril and Methodius’ feast day typically falls either February 14 or May 11 depending on your calendar of choice, and is celebrated as a public holiday across Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Their sainthood makes them patron saints of education.
Shiner Church Cemetery is an important historical landmark. It features numerous gravestones with fascinating inscriptions in Latin, Slavic, and English languages as well as stars of St Ladislaus Order and crosses of the Order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Orders. Open to visitors, maintained by its parish, and open for public tours – Treasures of Diocese of Austin is available with a section on Shiner church for purchase at the parish office for $35.00.
Church was completed in 1895 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Its interior was designed by Gottfried Flury, a Swiss-born artist who resided in Texas at that time and employed stenciling, infill painting, and freehand techniques to produce its elaborate polychrome interior incorporating Gothic tracery and stone vaults from Central Europe – typical elements found within painted churches constructed by immigrant populations throughout Texas.
St Mary of the Assumption has always been a welcoming church to many people. During the late 1800s, several families from Poland settled in Phoenixville due to employment at Phoenix Iron Company – providing good wages. These Polish families attended mass at St Mary of the Assumption as well as participated in social and cultural activities together. Representatives from fifty Polish families met with Bishop Patrick J. Ryan DD to receive approval to establish their own parish.
Early 1900s churches began to see an unprecedented influx of summer crowds. Seats, aisles, and galleries became packed when thousands attended Redemptorist priest-led mission services; fifteen square feet of flooring buckled under their weight causing further panic in the congregation.
After the Second Vatican Council, the church underwent several renovations. The old altar railing was dismantled and its original center marble altar screened off, leaving only a single marble altar closer to its members positioned nearer them. A further renovation in 1978 completed changes made through this initiative.
Today the church offers a peaceful and beautiful space in which to worship God, featuring beautiful paintings and sculptures as well as 23 rows of Read Oak pews that seat 1,200 parishioners – as well as John Winterich Company glass windows and an 8′ cross made from Japanese mahogany adorning its interior.
Church has a parish school which educates children from preschool to fifth grade. Our dedicated group of volunteers also plays an integral part in many parish events.
3. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Texas stands as an outstanding double-decker church and stands as its tallest structure. Constructed in 1870 by Wendish immigrants from Germany seeking religious freedom and affordable land when they moved here, the building serves as a symbol of their heritage and culture.
German settlers first settled in Pleasant Point (later Aleman) during the late 19th century, and Lutheran missionaries provided services until a permanent congregation could be organized. Fourteen families eventually organized St. Paul’s Congregation under Johannes Barthel as their pastor.
The St Paul’s Lutheran Church papers collection is an extensive manuscript archive comprising church publications, ledger books, newspaper clippings and photographs, and architectural drawings of St Paul’s Lutheran Church located at the University of Texas Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History.
World War II saw many Lutheran churches expand across Texas, particularly near military bases or areas where service members had relocated from the Northeast and Midwest. Church headquarters became more responsive to their members’ needs than ever before.
By the turn of the century, St. Paul’s had joined the Texas Synod of the Lutheran Church in America – which was distinct from the Iowa-based Missouri Synod – while still keeping its connection to St. Chrischona in Switzerland and receiving pastors from there.
St Paul’s congregation made the wise decision of purchasing land on Schilling Avenue so they could expand. A new sanctuary was constructed there in 1951 and then again expanded in 1958 to house both school and gym activities.
Today’s church provides a gathering place for people of all ages. Committed to Jesus’ scriptural mandate that all are welcome at His table of grace, it strives to express this gratefulness through selfless giving and community outreach activities. Furthermore, lifelong faith formation programs for both children and adults are provided at our church.
4. Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin Catholic Church
Visits to Texas Hill Country churches aren’t complete without visiting one of its stunning, painted churches. Boasting vibrant interiors decorated with intricate patterns and clever trompe l’oeil images designed by Czech and German immigrant communities who built them, their interiors feature vibrant patterns and clever trompe l’oeil imagery created through hand stenciling, tracing, marbling techniques – perfect places for prayer!
German and Czech immigrants arriving in central Texas made an effort to replicate the Gothic structures found back home, even though church leaders wanted them to use more practical designs such as Spanish or mission. Instead, early settlers raised funds and donated time in order to make these authentic houses of worship as authentic as possible.
Saints Cyril and Methodius were the first of these churches to be completed, featuring an iron cross made by local freed slave Tom Lee. Following the Civil War, several families moved outward from town in search of new congregations; in 1908 they hired famed San Antonio architect Leo M.J. Dielmann to design a stone building that would serve as their church.
Nativity of Mary quickly outgrew its original building and parishioners raised $40,000 (equivalent to roughly $1M today) to construct an exquisite stone church featuring a corner tower and buttresses, stained glass from Germany, as well as stunning murals by Ferdinand Stockert and Hermann Kern.
The feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin is observed annually on September 8th – nine months after Christmas and the solemnity of Immaculate Conception. This commemorates Jesus’s birth and Mary’s miraculous conception as an immaculate creature by God’s grace while marking one of Catholicism’s most celebrated holiday seasons – it marks her becoming Mother to Savior through her devotion and love of Him.